Bruce Gowers, the Emmy award-winning director of “American Idol: The Search for a Superstar” and the original video for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” died Jan. 15 in his Santa Monica home after suffering from an acute respiratory infection, according to family members. He was 82.
Between 2002 and 2011, Gowers directed 234 episodes of “American Idol” over the course of eight seasons, earning him five Grammy nominations and one win for outstanding directing on a variety, music or comedy series in 2009.
Gowers was previously nominated for the same Emmy award in 1998 for his work on the TV special “Fleetwood Mac: The Dance” the year prior. In 1985, he also shared a nomination with the editors of “The Fifth International Guinness Book of World Records” for outstanding videotape editing for a limited series or a special.
Born in New Kilbride, Scotland, Gowers began his career across the Atlantic, where he attended the BBC Training College in London. Ultimately, Gowers accepted staff producing and directing positions at networks like Rediffusion and London Weekend Television.
His family noted Gowers was “happiest in the control room,” which he would frequently occupy as a director for television programming and music videos.
In 1975, Gowers was suddenly launched into critical acclaim after he served as director on the legendary music video for Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In the decades that followed, Gowers saw an influx of opportunities to work alongside artists like the Rolling Stones, 10cc, Rod Stewart, the Bee Gees, Alice Cooper, Journey, Supertramp, Michael Jackson, Rush, Santana, Prince, REO Speedwagon, Toto, John Mellencamp and more.
Later in the ’70s, Gowers relocated to California, where he continued to direct and produce major award shows like the Primetime Emmy Awards, the Billboard Awards and the MTV Awards.
Gowers was presented with his own MTV Award for his work on “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and went on to receive an award from the Director’s Guild of America in 2004 for “Genius: A Night for Ray Charles.” The seasoned filmmaker also received a Grammy in 1986 for directing the accompanying long-form music video to Huey Lewis and the News’ “The Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
The “American Idol” veteran is survived by his wife, Carol Rosenstein; his daughter, Katharine Polk; his son, Sean Gowers and his four grandchildren: Sean Jr., Robert, Charlotte and Layla.
Gower’s family is accepting donations in the filmmaker’s name to World Central Kitchen and Southern California Bulldog Rescue.